Lifting secrecy

In the last 24 hours, there have been three major revelations as a result of lifting the “cone of silence:”

In the UK, a release of secret papers from the National Archives revealed that D-Day the invasion of North Africa was threatened by a wireless operator who was plucked from a Portuguese fishing boat. His mission was to relay details of ship movements to Nazi U-boats. How might the war have turned out had a citizen of a neutral country not been detained? Gen. Patton was on board one of the ships in the convoy.

The papers also showed Britain sent a fascist to the front lines in hopes of smoking out other fascist sympathizers.

But it’s more recent “secret papers” that paint a chilling picture of what might have been today.

Legal memos, written after 9/11, show the suggestion that the U.S. military could conduct warrantless searches in the United States if the president approved.

“We conclude that the president has ample constitutional and statutory authority to deploy the military against international or foreign terrorists operating within the United States,” wrote John Yoo, then a deputy assistant attorney general. “We further believe that the use of such military force generally is consistent with constitutional standards, and that it need not follow the exact procedures that govern law enforcement operations.”

The memo, which you can read here on the Department of Justice Web site, also continues a long-running dispute: Who decides whether to make war in the U.S.?


Some commentators have read the constitutional text differently. They argue that the vesting of the power to declare war gives Congress the sole authority to decide whether to make war. (6) This view misreads the constitutional text and misunderstands the nature of a declaration of war. Declaring war is not tantamount to making war – indeed, the Constitutional Convention specifically amended the working draft of the Constitution that had given Congress the power to make war. An earlier draft of the Constitution had given to Congress the power to “make” war. When it took up this clause on August 17, 1787, the Convention voted to change the clause from “make” to “declare.” 2 The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, at 318-19 (Max Farrand ed., rev. ed. 1966) (1911). A supporter of the change argued that it would “leav[e] to the Executive the power to repel sudden attacks.” Id. at 318. Further, other elements of the Constitution describe “engaging” in war, which demonstrates that the Framers understood making and engaging in war to be broader than simply “declaring” war. See U.S. Const. art. I, § 10, cl. 3 (“No State shall, without the Consent of Congress . . . engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.”). A State constitution at the time of the ratification included provisions that prohibited the governor from “making” war without legislative approval, S.C. Const. art. XXVI (1776), reprinted in 6 The Federal and State Constitutions 3247 (Francis Newton Thorpe ed., 1909). (7) If the Framers had wanted to require congressional consent before the initiation of military hostilities, they knew how to write such provisions.

A third “secrecy story” was not voluntarily released by the government involved. The New York Times released details of a “secret memo” between President Obama and Russia’s president in which he uses a missile program in Europe as a bargaining chip to enlist Russia’s help preventing Iran from developing long-range weapons.

  • Bob

    Halleleuia!! It’s gratifying to see the veil of secrecy on Bush’s fascistic administration lifted.

    Wherever he is, Benjamin Franklin must be tickled pink; I believe it was he who said “Those who would sacrifice essential liberty for a little temporary security deserve neither liberty nor security.”